The Peak in HDD Technology: Demartek Analysis Cites Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K

  • IOPS performance gains from Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K.6 with Enhanced Caching

“An extra performance boost not normally seen in hard drives”

Demartek, an independent computer industry analyst firm with its own computer test lab, has evaluated the Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K.6 hard drive (HDD) with Enhanced Cache in several workload scenarios the drive is designed for. Their conclusion: “Where performance is essential, the Seagate TurboBoost™ Enhanced Cache 900GB 15K HDD SAS drives represent the peak in HDD technology.”

IOPS performance gains from Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K.6 with Enhanced CachingDemartek set up a wide variety of appropriate workload-based tests to compare the performance of these drives, which feature Advanced Format 4K sector formatting (with 512e) and Seagate’s Enhanced Caching, versus standard-format drives. They ran varied workload scenarios using benchmarks including Iometer, SNIA Emerald Hot Band Workload, Microsoft IIS Read-Only Webserver, Microsoft SQL Server OLTP, and ESXi VDI Bootstorm.

Results showed significant improvements across the board in the applications Demartek identified as the appropriate targets for deploying Enterprise Performance 15K.6. Among other benefits was a marked IOPS gain — 70% more IOPS in a pure write scenario and roughly 40% improvement over baseline in mixed read-write workloads. See Demartek’s full write-up of results here.

How does Enhanced Caching change the hard drive’s performance profile?

Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K.6 hard drives enable faster transaction processing by improving both sequential and random performance through Seagate’s Enhanced Caching feature. As part of this, Seagate’s Advanced Write Cache feature improves random write performance by using Non-Volatile cache and mirrored DRAM for the industry’s highest mission-critical storage workload efficiency. Localized random reads are improved with Seagate’s TurboBoost technology by moving the hot data to just the right amount of flash on the drive for optimum response times — an overall performance gain on average of 3X.

“This is a new type of enterprise hard disk drive, with a sizeable amount of on-board flash memory,” said Dennis Martin, Demartek President. “These 15K-RPM hard disk drives with enhanced cache enable a wide variety of workloads to be accelerated with an extra performance boost not normally seen in hard drives. Seagate’s combination of increased performance and greater flexibility on the Enterprise Performance HDDs with Enhanced Cache assists IT professionals making the transition to Advanced Formats.”

What is Advanced Format and when should it be deployed?

Seagate’s Enterprise Performance 15K.6 drives support the Advanced Format (AF) architecture. Enterprise hard disk drives have traditionally used a 512-byte sector architecture. Significant increases in storage capacities over recent years call for an update to an Advanced Format architecture which increases the native sector block size to 4 kilobytes (or “4K” blocks). In order to maintain compatibility with existing hardware and software systems, 4K sector size disk drives also support 512-byte emulation known as “512e.”

Demartek’s analysts emphasized that Seagate’s Advanced Format drives “include not only a boost in performance over a standard 512 native drive, but also a new Seagate feature entitled ‘FastFormat’ that can easily upgrade installations from 512e ↔ 4Kn in seconds allowing the user to future-proof their system with a single drive purchase. Seagate’s combination of increased performance and greater flexibility on Enterprise Performance HDD with enhanced cache assists IT professionals making the transition to Advanced Formats.”

What application workloads require this high level of performance?

All together, the combined technological capabilities of the Enterprise Performance 15K.6 accelerate I/O operations and complete more transactions faster — for OLTP, big data analytics and data warehousing — even during peak demand. It’s the ideal drive for building high-performance servers that can manage multiple transactions quickly, resulting in faster response times while providing economical storage capacity:

  • Reducing latencies for significantly faster, predictable response times
  • Creating blade, rack or tower SAS servers hosting transaction-based applications
  • Delivering solutions for power- and space-constrained data centers
  • Upgrading systems for increased data security and easy drive retirement
  • Efficiently managing database applications at an economical cost-per-GB

“In today’s world of digital transformation, organizations require high performance compute and HDD options that can match a broad spectrum of workloads,” Demartek’s report points out. “Every application has its own I/O demands, whether highly sequential, large block archiving and backups, random transactional processing, latency sensitive real time data analysis, or something altogether different. Storage and compute systems have to meet or exceed service expectations to keep businesses competitive. Equally essential in this world of flat and shrinking budgets is the application of the appropriate cost/performance HDDs to the workload for the best return on investment.”

Seagate-Enterprise-Performance-15K-HDDBy deploying Seagate’s Enterprise Performance 15K.6, “Critical application workloads will benefit from a significant performance advantage without breaking the bank,” according to the Demartek report.

In a separate report, Demartek also evaluated the new Enterprise Performance 15K.6 hard drives using a Dell EMC PowerEdge R830 server for scalable and balanced performance in a variety of use cases to help IT experts make informed technology choices. Many workloads, such as OLTP, Webserver, Virtual Desktop, or other random read/write tasks, as shown in Demartek’s test results, may be best served by enterprise HDDs that can offer an extra performance boost with a flash cache.

Demartek is a computer industry analyst organization with its own ISO 17025 accredited computer test lab. Demartek provides real-world, hands-on research & analysis by focusing on industry analysis and lab validation testing of server, network, storage and security technologies, for the small and medium business (SMB) environment and the large enterprise. Information about Demartek services is available at: on the Demartek website.


About the Author:

John Paulsen
John Paulsen is a "Data for Good" advocate, with nearly 20 years in the data storage industry. He's helped launch many industry-firsts including HAMR technology, 10K-rpm and 15K-rpm hard drives, drives designed specifically for video and for gaming, Serial ATA drives, fluid dynamic HDD motors, 60TB SSDs, and MACH.2 multi-actuator technology.